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Debussy: Orchestral Works Vol 6 / Markl, Orchestra National De Lyon


Release Date: 05/31/2011 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572583   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Jun Märkl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The orchestrations are colorful, subtle and brilliant. A joy to hear. Equally delightful is the playing. The Lyon National Orchestra under Jun Märkl captures the subtlety and beauty of tone throughout every piece and the recorded sound is really first rate.

The Debussy Orchestral Works, Vol. 6 from Naxos offers a nice mix of familiar and rare works, all in exquisite orchestrations by musicians who either knew Debussy or admire his works. Debussy himself wrote all of this music for the piano 4 hands. The orchestrations are colorful, subtle and brilliant. A joy to hear. Equally delightful is the playing. The Lyon National Orchestra under Jun Märkl captures the subtlety and beauty of tone throughout every piece
Read more and the recorded sound is really first rate. Orchestrating piano music requires an understanding of both keyboard and orchestral techniques in order to rethink the piano music for an ensemble. It requires interpolations that are natural to the spirit of the music without imparting on the orchestra a pianistic left and right hand. These arrangements make the music sound as if it has always been for orchestra.

The selections range from pops concert favorite, Clair de lune, in a luminous classic arrangement by Andre Caplet to Debussy's early Symphony, of which he completed only the first movement, orchestrated by Tony Finno. With Clair de lune we also get the entire Suite bergamasque from which it comes, the other movements colorfully arranged by Gustave Cloez. The total effect of the suite in this orchestral form is much like a ballet score, performed with lyric grace by Lyon musicians. This is a particularly fine and sensitive performance of Clair de lune. This heartstrings pulling performance of moves at a slightly faster pace than some of the others but remains quite lovely within its own world in the suite.

The Symphony is actually rather good. Its swaggering main theme is a bit repetitious but the overall style is much more romantic than impressionist and reminiscent of perhaps d'Indy, Faure or the rarely heard symphony by Dukas. I've heard one other chamber ensemble arrangement of Debussy's sketches and this version for full orchestra by Tony Finno is far and away the best.

Henri Busser's arrangement of the Petite suite, which certainly has much orchestral competition with performances recorded by Martinon, Tortelier, Ansermet, Dutoit and many more is aided here by superb sound quality and excellent, sensitive artistry. Busser's other orchestration is Printemps, a two movement piece with one foot in the late-romantic era and the other feeling around in the new musical impressionism. The music is played with shimmering beauty. Probably the clearest and most sparkling recorded performance of Printemps I've heard.

En blanc et noir, orchestrated by Robin Holloway is not just black and white as the piano key title implies, but quite colorful. The arrangement was commissioned in 2002 by the San Francisco Symphony. The music is more boisterous and exuberant,sounding at times as if it is about to turn toward Debussy's Iberia but with the Spanish atmosphere replaced instead by a somewhat mischievous quality which grows on you with repeated hearings. The last movement Debussy dedicated to "mon ami Strawinsky"‘. With performances that treat the older works as if they were newly discovered and the unknown works with a sense of magic and wonder, this album is definitely a winner.

- Greg La Traille, ArkivMusic.com

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The most compelling item in this collection is En blanc et noir, not only one of Debussy's most advanced instrumental works (composed for two pianos), but the orchestral arrangement sounds closest to the composer himself. Robin Holloway drew upon Debussy's contemporaneous Jeux as a model, with numerous passages in the first and third movements replicating that work's uniquely colorful sound world. In the reflective middle movement Holloway's orchestral dress evokes the dreamy atmosphere of Les parfums de la nuit from Iberia. Jun Märkl and the Orchestre National de Lyon offer a sparking performance, playing the music with real verve, as if they had discovered a heretofore unknown Debussy masterpiece.

Debussy only completed one movement of his proposed Symphony in B minor (1880), and then only as a piano duet. Tony Finno's orchestral arrangement emphasizes the music's Russian influences (it was composed around the time he was employed by Tchaikovsky's patron Nadezhda von Meck), though there are occasional pre-echoes of the mature Debussy. Märkl and his band perform this and the remainder of the program (the familiar Suite bergamasque, Petite Suite, and Printemps arrangements) with the same vitality and commitment afforded En blanc et noir. The spacious recording is a bit over-reverberant, but nevertheless provides solid presence and impact. Debussy fans will find this release a real delight.

--Victor Carr Jr, ClassicsToday.com

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Other review quotes:

"Subtle and sensitive readings" - Gramophone.

"This is bewitching music-making that should on no account be missed. One of the finest discs Naxos has ever released." - Classic FM (about Volume 1 (8.570759).

"Volume 6 in Naxos’s popular series presents five highly diverse works in gorgeous orchestrations by Debussy’s colleagues or later admirers. Indeed, pieces such as Clair de lune and Printemps may even be better known in these seductive guises than in their original forms. Of particular interest is Debussy’s sole attempt at composing a symphony, a youthful work imbued with the spirit of French Romanticism, only the first movement of which he completed." - Naxos
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Works on This Recording

1.
Suite bergamasque by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Jun Märkl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1890/1905; France 
2.
Petite suite for Piano 4 hands by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Jun Märkl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1886-1889; France 
3.
Printemps by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Jun Märkl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1887; France 
4.
En blanc et noir by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Jun Märkl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915; France 
5.
Symphony in B minor by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Jun Märkl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1880; France 

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